The Local Foods Roundtable was held at the Ohio Department of Agriculture on Thursday November 12th. We were very pleased to be part of the Roundtable because it mirrored our own idea for a Local Food Summit but at a state level rather than just Central Ohio. We were even more pleased that the event attracted over 100 people. The day’s conference included a number of break out sessions covering topics such as innovative local food distribution, marketing and outreach, small scale processing, building partnerships in food policy and engaging economic development in local food and agriculture. It was inspiring to hear some of the stories around the state including some fantastic initiatives in Knox County, Athens County and the Cleveland-Cuyahoga area.
There were also opportunities during the day for informal networking including the Slow Food Columbus reception at the end of the day, which we volunteered to host in the hopes of fostering more connections and opportunities for dialogue. Participants at the conference were from a wide variety of organizations, OSU extension, universities, businesses and non-profits and represented many geographic areas of the state as well as different parts of the local food economy.
Congratulations to Amalie Lipstreu (senior program manager for sustainable agriculture) for planning and co-ordinating the event and thank you to everyone who participated. We hope that there will be many more opportunities for networking, collaboration and discussion in the future. Now the challenge is how to build and maintain connections between groups that could work together on common aims or assist each other with skills, contacts and experience.
We had hoped to showcase and serve Ohio wine and cheese but after months of wrangling about permits we were frustrated to find out that we would be unable to serve wine. We did not know that Ohio had any partly dry counties left. It does. (Guess where the Department of Agriculture is located?). We did serve some delicious local products though including bread from the Eleni Christina bakery (owned by Slow Food member Kent Rigsby), ramp crackers from Integration Acres and flax seed crackers Stan Evans bakery in Grandview, roasted Wayward Seed Farm Chioggia and golden beets and local apple cider. Many thanks to Blue Jacket Dairy for donating some of their fabulous cheeses for the reception: herb chevre, Ludlow, pumpkin quark and a variety of cheese curds.